Arsene Wenger says he did not lie about Danny Welbeck’s injury following criticism over Arsenal’s failure to sign a replacement before the transfer deadline.
England forward Welbeck is expected to be out for several months after he underwent surgery on a knee problem which caused him to miss the end of last season and the FA Cup final victory over Aston Villa.
With the decision to operate having come ahead of the September 1 deadline, there would have still been time for Arsenal to move in the transfer window to bolster the attacking options. Both Karim Benzema at Real Madrid and Uruguayan forward Edinson Cavani from Paris Saint-Germain were reported targets.
Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson said to have only added veteran goalkeeper Petr Cech, who arrived earlier in the summer from Chelsea, “cheats the fans”.
Wenger hit back when speaking ahead of Saturday’s Barclays Premier League match against Stoke.
“You either find someone who strengthens your squad or not. Whether we have players injured or not doesn’t change the problem, that’s what I don’t understand from the media,” he said.
“First of all I am surprised that people accused me of lying when I was in the press conference on Friday morning, I did not know Welbeck had a bad set back. I did not lie to you, I gave you the information I had.
“I heard late on Friday night that his condition had not evolved as well as we thought it was and he had needed specialist and needed further investigation. Apart from that, if we did not find someone [to sign], we did not find them.”
Wenger continued: “I have made more than 300 transfers and every time it’s a decision to make. Do you buy the player because he strengthens his squad or not? The solutions we had were not convincing at all.
“In the end you do not buy to give one hope, you want to buy because the players who come in can help your squad to be stronger. Buying and selling is one way to strengthen your team, but that’s not the only way.”
Wenger called on the fans to provide a united front as the players tackle the challenges ahead.
“To support the club and support them team is to stand behind the players – it is not always expecting someone coming down from heaven to sort out all your problems. Support is believing in the players in the squad and this is a good opportunity to do that for our supporters,” he said.
Wenger also revealed midfielder Jack Wilshere would not return as expected from a hairline fracture in his fibula following the international break as planned.